For most of human history, we lived on the edge of the forest. We were a part of the ecosystem, living in harmony with the life that thrived within these enchanted places. Now often referred to as old-growth forests, these isolated sites that once covered many parts of the world are going extinct.
The growth of our species has led to the degradation of forest ecosystems around the world. Every minute, 36 football fields worth of trees are lost to deforestation. It may not seem like it doesn’t affect your health, but it does. Those biodiverse ecosystems are integral to our health. They clean the air we breathe and the water we drink.
The ancient forests have become essential to our understanding of ecosystem health, carbon sequestration, and how we can be more resilient as a species amid accelerating climate change conditions. We must learn and innovate with the wisdom of nature to achieve holistic health at home.
From Tasmania to California, here are five of the most magical ancient forests in the world that still stand today.
The Tarkine is the second largest expanse of cool temperate rainforest in the world. And, it is home to one of the oldest living organisms on Earth, the great Huon pine. Fossil records show that this strong, slow-growing tree can live up to 3,000 years. The phytoncides it gives off have a sweet smell. The aboriginal people of Tasmania called this place home for thousands of years.
Check out more virtual experiences of the Tarkine here.
This temperate rain forest in Alaska consists of 16.8 million acres and is one of the most ancient forests in the world. Many of the trees are over 800 years old. The Tongass also makes up about one-third of all old-growth temperate rainforests on the planet. National Geographic described Tongass as an, “exceptionally rich ecosystem that holds more organic matter – more biomass – per acre than any other, including tropical jungles.”
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
At almost 10,000 feet in elevation in the California highlands, this is home to some of the oldest living trees on Earth. The most ancient among the protected forest’s bristlecone pines is Methuselah, a tree estimated to be 4,841 years old.
The moss-covered roots of Yakusugi trees, also known as Japanese cedars, have been steeping in the woods of Yakushima island for an estimated 7,000 years.
Poland and Belarus
Białowieża Forest is one of Europe’s last remaining stretches of old-growth forests. After nearly being wiped out, roughly 900 of the endangered bison now roam freely and serve as a symbol of the woods.